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Thursday
Feb102011

Israel Analysis: International Pressure is Growing to Break "Deadlock"

With the Quartet (the US, Russia, European Union and United Nations) declaring that the deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is a threat to region's whole security and condemning Israel for its inaction following the end of 10-month freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank; the circle around West Jerusalem is tightening.

Kadima: The opposition party started an early election campaign with the slogan of "Two years of Netanyahu, Israel loses" and a scoreboard of "Bibi 2: Israel 0." On Wednesday, its leader Tzipi Livni said:

After two years, the Israeli public is losing. There is no leadership in Israel – the existing leadership only sees itself and doesn't see what is happening with the citizens.

The prime minister doesn't know how to make decisions… and Israel is weak. Two years later, the time has come to change this horrible government. Kadima always was and will be a voice for the good citizens who live in this country.

Lieberman: On Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman continued his tough, provocative rhetoric. In the wake of Arab "revolutions", Lieberman declared

Whoever thinks that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is part of the problems in the Middle East is trying to escape reality.

The Arab world is becoming increasingly weakened. At the end of the day, it is clear to everyone, even to the Palestinian Authority, that the greatest danger they are facing is not Zionism, but rather Hamas and Jihad.

Russia: On Tuesday, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin proposed that the Security Council should visit Israel, Palestinian lands, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria  to help restart stalled peace talks between West Jerusalem and Ramallah. Churkin said: "We think that the Security Council could play a role in helping this move ahead."

The US: After Monday's decision by the Jerusalem Municipal Committee for Planning and Building to construct two buildings including13 apartments for Jewish residents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalemm a State Department official criticized West Jerusalem, saying that "unilateral" Israeli actions"in Sheikh Jarrah and previously in Beit Orot were working against efforts to resume direct negotiations and "contradicted the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties on the status of Jerusalem".

Britain: On Wednesday, Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Israel to avoid "belligerent" language and called for "bold leadership" from the United States, Israel and the Palestinians. He said:

Amidst the opportunity for countries like Tunisia and Egypt, there is a legitimate fear that the Middle East peace process will lose further momentum and be put to one side, and will be a casualty of uncertainty in the region.

Part of the fear is that uncertainty and change will complicate the process still further. That means there is a real urgency for the Israelis and the United States.

Without action now, within a few years, peace may become impossible.

NATO: On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a resumption of the negotiations was vital to regional peace and security. He also offered NATO's peace-keeping services to Israelis and Palestinians if needed in the future. 

While international pressure is growing, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak took the front line and went to Washington with Ambassador Michael Oren. He talked to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. Alongside the "existential threat" of Iran, Israel's security was on the top of the agenda. 

Following the meetings, the Israeli side summarized the process as "excellent" whereas the White House referred in its statement to its “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, including through our continued support for Israel’s military, and the unprecedented security cooperation between our two governments.”

Domestically, Netanyahu stated on Thursday that the government will take new measures including the reduction of water costs, the reduction of public transportation prices and the cancellation of the latest tax increase on gas. He added that minimum monthly wages will be raised by NIS 450 ($122).

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